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Etihad Rail, the state-owned developer and operator of the UAE’s national rail network, unveiled a strategy on Monday to link the country’s major ports and towns, as it commences the second phase of its project with funding secured last year.
“The new strategy includes a set of key pillars that focus on providing innovative solutions to support long-term national wealth and economic diversification, by linking all major UAE ports,” Etihad Rail said.
A five-year contract has been awarded to PMC & Engineering Contracts to develop and supervise the next phase of the network from Ghuweifat on the Saudi Arabian border to the UAE’s Port of Fujairah, the company said.
Etihad Rail has also signed a series of land lease agreements throughout the UAE to secure the rail network’s transport corridors across all seven emirates.
The railway is a key component of the UAE’s future transport strategy, as it intends to transport freight for the country’s sizeable mining, quarrying, shipping, distribution and oil and gas industries, as well as serve passengers from city centres and the suburbs.
The first phase of the railway, costing Dh4.7bn, was fully operational by 2016. It was built to transport sulphur from the oil refineries at Habshan in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, to the port at Ruwais for export.
The second phase was intended to connect the railway to Abu Dhabi’s industrial area of Mussaffah and the ports of Jebel Ali and Khalifa, but it was put on hold.
Last November, however, Etihad Rail agreed on financing with the UAE Ministry of Finance for the second phase, which will expand the current network of 264 kilometres by 605km – more than tripling the railway in length and extending services from the UAE-Saudi border to Fujairah, with more routes to come.
The agreement will increase the amount of freight carried by trains to more than 50 million tonnes per year, from the present seven million. The government did not disclose the amount or terms of the funding.
Etihad Rail devised a new strategy and brand identity to reflect the “significant strides” with regard to the financing agreement sealed last November, including the five-year construction award and land lease deals, the company said.
“The new strategy reflects the company’s aspirations to act as a catalyst for economic growth and provide a safe and reliable means of transportation for future generations.”
Etihad Rail was set up by the UAE government in 2009 tasked with managing the development, construction and operation of a national freight and passenger railway spanning 1,200km.
The network will also form a crucial part of the proposed GCC railway network across the six-country economic bloc.
This article first appeared on www.thenational.ae
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